Starting kindergarten is often the first time your kids will need a packed lunch. This blog post will tell you everything you need to know about packing kindergarten lunchboxes. We’ll cover everything from tips for packing lunchboxes for kindergarteners to what to pack in the lunchbox. I will also share what products we use and love. This blog post includes affiliate links and codes. By using these I will earn a small amount of commission at no additional cost to you.
The twins start kindergarten soon. I cannot believe it – how quick does time go? 😭😭😭. But there is a little part of me – actually that’s a lie – a BIG part of me that is super excited to be packing kindergarten lunchboxes for them. I know. Crazy right?! But, my twins are actually (and I am right now touching as many bits of wood as I can) quite adventurous eaters. Well comparatively to Mr 8 anyway. So I am excited to pack a new variety of foods that I know they will eat.
Packing kindergarten lunchboxes at home
I have been a long time fan of lunchboxes for the home. I have done this from a convenience-for-me-factor but it actually has some great benefits for our pre-schoolers too!
Firstly, having a lunchbox at home familiarises your kindergartener with opening and closing their lunchbox. This is really important so it’s a great idea to get that lunchbox in action before kindergarten starts so that you can help your preschooler learn to do this for themselves. This applies to their lunch bags too if you are using these.
Secondly, this also helps as you can remind them what food to save for what break to make sure that they don’t eat all their food in one sitting. I am looking at you Mr 4. Thanks to teacher, Mum and creative genius Shannon from Oh Creative Day who shared this benefit with me recently. Your kindergarten will be able to let you know what times are food break times. And some kindergartens will request that you pack food in separate containers for each break.
Should I introduce new foods to my kindergartener in their lunchbox?
Personally, I found packing kindergarten lunches a great way to slowly introduce new foods to Mr 8. With the emphasis on slowly. Packing one new food (and exposing often) in amongst food your children know and love is a great way to offer foods in a safe way.
It is a good idea to ensure the majority of the food is known and liked or loved to ensure that your child does not feel pressured to eat foods they don’t like and you will get an idea of how much food your child needs for a day at kindy.
If you are interested in introducing new foods, a great way to do this is in the lead up to kindergarten. Get your preschooler or kindergartener in the kitchen with you. Ask them to help write a shopping list and ask them to help select what foods they would like in their lunchbox.
What is the best lunchbox for my kindergartener?
One of the questions I am asked the most is what lunchboxes I recommend. I have covered this off in a lot more detail in this blog post ‘Are Bento Lunchboxes Really the Best Lunchboxes for Kids‘. But here are some guiding questions for you.
Firstly, what is your child’s appetite like? Do they have hearty appetites? Or do they eat like a bird? If your child doesn’t seem to eat a lot choosing a lunchbox that is on the smaller size may help as it won’t overwhelm them and will reduce waste. Also, if you are required to send lunch and snacks in different containers then a smaller size lunchbox coupled with a snack box may be sufficient.
Your choice in lunchbox should also be guided but what sorts of food your children enjoy. If your kids love yogurt and you want to reduce plastic waste then choosing a lunchbox that can hold wet and dry foods may be for you.
Our lunch boxes of choice are the Little Lunch Box Co Bento Five and the Yumbox Original. You can use my discount code GOODIE for 10% off your order at either of these stores if you live in Australia.
How do you keep your kindergartener’s lunch at a safe temperature?
Another consideration is how the lunchboxes will be stored at kindergarten. Are these stored in a fridge or will you need an insulated lunch bag to keep the lunch at a safe temperature.
We love the insulated lunch bags from Montii. They are great quality and are a big enough lunch bag to fit both a lunchbox and a snack box. You can also use my code GGLB for 10% off these great lunch bags. As a side note we also love the Montii insulated drink bottles too – pictured below. These are the mini Montii bottles which are a perfect size for kindergarten or school.
These double wall insulated drink bottles stay seriously cool on even the hottest of days. The bumpers help protect the base from bumps but they are hardy drink bottles that we have not needed to replace all year, unlike some plastic ones which we have needed to replace more often.
What should I be packing in my preschooler’s lunchbox?
A natural concern for parents who haven’t packed a kindergarten lunchbox before is, what should I pack in a kindergarten lunchbox? We have already discussed packing familiar foods in the lunchbox, but, I tend to pack:
- one ‘main’ item like a sandwich or wraps
- one to two savoury snacks like cheese and crackers or a pizza scroll and cheese
- two veggie options, two fruit options
- one ‘sweet’ option.
I have a blog post dedicated to Easy School Lunch Ideas that has lots of different options for packing kindergarten lunchboxes based on this method. My school lunchboxes tend to have a good mix of carbohydrates, fibre, protein and fat across these options in the lunchbox. This keeps tummies full and brains engaged.
If you choose to send any packaged food or food that is wrapped you will need to make sure your kids can open this too just like you would with the lunchboxes. This is another reason I love bento style lunchboxes as you don’t require food to be wrapped.
How should I serve the food when packing kindergarten lunchboxes?
Another consideration is the size of the foods you are packing. I find it’s a good ideas to cut the food into manageable portions so that it can be eaten reasonably quickly. Break times are short and your kindergarteners (and school kids) will often prioritise play over food. I roll sandwiches into bite sized ‘sushi’ and I cut wraps into portions and fruit and vegetables are cut up so they are easier to eat.Some of our favourite foods to pack in lunchboxes are these delicious Make Ahead Pizza Scrolls or for a sweeter treat we love this seedy take on the classic Oatmeal and Raisin Cookie. You can also make your own crackers and cut out with cookie cutters for a fun and delicious snack. We love these Carrot Cheddar and Poppyseed Crackers.
What should I not pack in kindergarten lunchboxes?
A big consideration is what not to pack. Ask your kindergarten to provide guidelines about what can and can’t be packed (if they have not given this already). And this is especially important from an allergy awareness perspective. At the kindergarten my kids attend they are unable to take nut based products. Some kindergartens have similar restrictions around egg products.
So there you have it. Everything that you need to know about packing kindergarten lunchboxes. Or at least I hope it is! Feel free to pop on over to Instagram and ask any questions you may have – I truly love chatting to you guys! Also, look out for my next blog post coming soon that will have information for you to compare the different brands of lunchboxes I use and love.
In the meantime, please share this post with parents who have kids starting kindergarten, preschool or school for the first time as I am sure they will find this useful.